Archive for October, 2009

My Real-Life Experiences with Escalating Health Insurance Prices

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We just got our health insurance renewal in the mail. We knew there would be a price increase…there always is.

As self-employed small business owners, my husband and I have to buy private health insurance. This year’s increase? A whopping 13 percent!

What does that mean in reality? For us, it means digging a little deeper in our pockets to come up with the increased monthly premium. Luckily, we can afford it. Many small biz owners cannot.

Let’s play this out with some real-life numbers. In six years, at the given increase rate, our health insurance premium will have doubled. Instead of $700 a month, it will be over $1,400 a month — equal to an additional house mortgage payment.

And that’s if we don’t get sick. If we get sick, it’s possible that our premiums could skyrocket.

Most mature businesses would be hard-pressed to double their revenues every 6 years in order to keep up with increasing health insurance premium costs for the owners and their employees, without radically changing their business model. For many service providers, it would mean either doubling the amount of billable hours you work each week, increasing your own prices, or cutting back on expenses elsewhere. Or dropping your health insurance coverage completely.

Yes, I could increase revenue by hiring other small business coaches to work for Passion For Business, but that’s not a business model I’m interested in persuing. So does increased insurance premiums force small business owners to either change their business model against their will or go out of business? I believe the answer is “yes” more often than we’d like.

I’m not here to argue politics or health care reform. I’m here to paint a simple picture of what massive health insurance costs are doing to people like me: self-employed small business owners.

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning
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New FTC Guidelines on Testimonials and Endorsements

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Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released new guidelines on what’s acceptable practice for businesses using testimonials and “celebrity” endorsements. You can see the summary news release here.

So why do we care? Because the FTC clearly states that results that are NOT typical, even if they use the disclaimer “results not typical” (like all those diet ads you see), are not acceptable. Per the FTC, “…advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect.”

That is so cool!!  What this means is that all those ads that promise you will lose 100 pounds or make $1,000,000 in 30 days can’t promise that anymore, if those results aren’t typical. This is especially importantant in the world of internet marketing, where some (not all, but some) gurus make exaggerated claims about what their product or service can do for you, and only choose those testimonials that back up the exaggerated claims.

In addition to testimonials, the new guidelines also cover endorsements. So if a blogger says that XYZ Product is the best they’ve every used, they have to disclose that they got paid by the XYZ company for that endorsement, or even got a free copy of XYZ Product or some other freebie (like a free vacation) in exchange for their endorsement. They must also disclose any “material connection” with the XYZ company.  In their summary, the FTC says, “…connections that consumers would not expect.”

Yesterday, we released some testimonial videos from mastermind group participants where they talk about their experience with mastermind groups. I guess we’d better put in there that we gave them a free lunch as part of the mastermind group session, in return for their testimonial. 🙂

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing

My NEW Mastermind Groups Video

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Is a mastermind group right for you?

My NEW Mastermind Groups promo video on YouTube can help answer those questions. We filmed in in August, then did a lot of brainstorming about what to include. I think the video folks did a great job! What do you think?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boGSOmzGCgo

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Start and Run a Mastermind Group

Without Strategy, You Are Just Wasting Time and Money

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Some people are natural-born planners. They think through an idea, start to finish, not only looking for loopholes, but asking the important questions:

  • WHY am I doing this?
  • WHY am I doing this now?
  • WHAT do I expect my outcome will be?
  • HOW will I test and track to know what my outcome is for this particular plan?
  • WHAT else could I be spending my time, money and energy on instead, that would yield greater results?

But some people are do-ers. They like to jump feet first into everything they do, and worry about the details later. When it comes to marketing, this is a huge mistake.

Planning allows you to brainstorm and think through possible scenarios before you commit your time, energy and money into your marketing ideas.  Ninety-five percent of the time, I advocate planning, especially if you’re starting a new, un-tested marketing campaign, using a new marketing technique, or launching a new product or service.  The time you spend with research and working through possible alternatives, as well as the time you spend thinking about how you might handle worse-case scenarios, will reap huge rewards later on.

For example, I see everyone jumping on the social media marketing bandwagon. Every major conference I’ve been to in the past year has at least one breakout session on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. You are told by the speaker that you must do social media marketing to stay relevant, so the moment you get back to the office you sign up for the social media sites and feel your way through the maze of new technology. You spend $1,000 on a customized blog.  But without a strategy for WHY you are doing it, HOW to do it effectively, and WHAT outcomes you can expect, you are wasting your time and money.

Every self-employed person will tell you that there’s no such thing as being 100% sure of success. But with strategic thinking and planning, you are moving yourself higher on the Probability of Success Scale than if you jump in without thinking.

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

Elizabeth Gilbert on Creativity

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http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business